We Can Occupy

You don't need a tent to Occupy.

Minutes – 2011 Oct. 23 – Occupy Needham

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| back to Occupy Needham main page |

10/23/2011, 6-8PM MEETING NOTES

Supporting the OCCUPY movement, from the suburbs
Meeting at Artie’s Home, Needham

  • Notes On Camp (life on camp, principles/values)
  • General discussion
  • Organizing actions to support OCCUPY
  • Ongoing outreach
  • Some Next Steps
  • Media brief

We heard reports on camp life and organizational plans/strategies from Occupy organizers/campers (living in tents at Dewey Square), Jason Pottieger and Phil Anderson.  They answered questions about camp life, organizational structure, political aims/demands, relationships with the city power structures (mayor, police, conservancy).

Jason and Phil talked about how it’s important to grow the Occupy movement beyond the physical site of the encampment—

  • Because they need infrastructure aid (supplies, donations, ‘man’power)
  • Because they may be shut down at any time
  • Because the movement is about issues that affect the 99% and need powerful grassroots mobilization to get political attention

They outlined the plans/hopes to organize more “Occupy Burb” house parties, with an organizational website (to be launched) with tool kits for planning these.  Needham’s meeting was the pilot suburb house party.

In a passionate and enthusiastic discussion, attendees shared concerns, questions and support for the Occupy movement and the issues behind it.  The two broad themes of Occupy’s message: our Broken economy and the Broken political system that has not allowed us to address the problems.

We discussed the threats to the movement by media (mis- or over-)representations of Occupy encampments as “Fringe” movements, and the importance of demonstrating broad buy-in from so-called “regular” American citizens. (Noting that these are media constructions that are problematic, but that we need to be aware of them and do our best to not let them work against the movement).

Concerns were raised about what the Endgame of the Occupy campers is.  Some think that definable goals need to be articulated.  Some had ideas on what that might be.  Others noted that once there is a specific policy goal, it is easier for the establishment to ignore it, and runs the risk of splitting the movement (which right now enjoys support of many otherwise ideologically disparate people who all believe that the economy isn’t serving regular Americans and the political system is broken by money…. From Ron Paul-ists to actual communists and Obama liberals and back-to-earthers).

Some suggested that we should lose the “OCCUPY” nomenclature.  However others suggest that the current public familiarity of “Occupy ___” is valuable “branding” and shows solidarity with an identifiable movement.

We discussed specific actions we can begin to organize to help broaden the movement to people outside of encampment, and develop this into a long-terms popular movement for better economy and politics.

  • “Suburb” visibility day IN Dewey Square (“Soccer Mom Supports Occupy”)–help change the media message about “the fringe”
  • Visibility days IN suburban communities (town squares, at the dump, etc)–help give suburban neighbors/friends “permission” to talk about and find identification with Occupy movement
  • Coordinated volunteer days—”Seniors from the suburbs washing dishes for Occupy”
  • Coordinated TENTS ON YOUR LAWNS day (click highlight to see note)
    • Harmony offered organizational support
    • Jason and Phil offered Occupy campers at the party, with sufficient notice and planning
  • Signs to put on lawn
  • Coordinated Letters to Ed. of local paper (ensure maximal coverage, one positive letter/week, for ongoing presence)
  • Reaching out to Faith communities about their support for the protest against unfair economy and the impoverishment of too many Americans.
    • Eleanor (separate from meeting) has suggested the First Parish church in Needham may be interested in sharing information with membership about specific actions (visibilities etc)
    • Julie is thinking about the faith communities she can bring into the movement…

Ongoing / unplanned outreaches / ideas

  • Speaking person-to-person, in your community, about Occupy (push back against apathy and mis-understanding)
  • Bring into meetings/groups like this other people in your community who ARE enthusiastic
  • Heading into Occupy on your own—do it anytime! But tell some people and ask if they want to join you (again, giving “permission” to others to think about Occupy as familiar and important to a trusted person, you)
  • Use Facebook/social media to coax friends to “Like” the movement

General agreement that we need to:

  • Start organizing around these bigger actions
  • Plan for future meetings and discussions about some of the bigger long term issues
  • Talk about expanding “Occupy [YourTown]” in area towns
    • Non-Needham people should begin to brainstorm people that can help organize this, if not you yourself!

Specific Organizing To-Dos (Housekeeping/logistical)

  • Create Facebook page
  • Create ListServ
  • Get working groups/vols willing to organize specific tasks

Pending Discussion Items/Open Issues

  • The question of Goals
  • Striking up longer term organizational structure for suburban Occupy, our own General Assembly
  • The question of Nomenclature
  • The question of Regional Branding (“Occupy Needham” not reflective of the geographic diversity in the room… on the other hand, “Occ Needham” can “launch” then support the next “Occupy Lunenberg” and “Occupy Winchester” etc. … SHow strength in numbers (They’re popping up everywhere!!))
  • Signs for suburban lawns:  from where? who would pay? Union printers? local regulations/culture about political signs (Needham can be finicky abt. signs; other places probably not as much)?

Jose Martinez, reporter for Boston.com MetroWest, attended the meeting for the full 2 hours, spoke with individuals at length about their reasons for being here, etc. As of 10/24/2011, 2PM, no story on the meeting has yet appeared. The story appeared on the 10/27/2011 Boston Globe Metrowest section front page: you can read it either at Boston Globe On-Line edition (which is subscription) or via boston.com (which is ad-supported).

Separately, the Needham Patch has expressed interest in talking with organizers as well as covering any events that we may do as a group (Suburbanites Support Occupy day?). (Patch posted the event announcement)


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